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  1. Default Need Some Substrate Advice


    0 Not allowed!
    I'm nearly ready to start the cycle on my 20g tank and have all the pieces ready to go with one exception: substrate. I've been doing my best at reading, reading, reading, and then a little more reading. But I've gotten to the place where it either all sounds the same, contradicts the previous article, or confuses me to no end! I was hoping to get some advice from the "been there and done that" crew and maybe clear some things up.

    My goal is to do a medium-planted 20g tank. I'm leaning heavily toward Corys, which means sand or smooth gravel from what I've read. I'm also on a somewhat tighter budget which has also lead me toward sand. The concerns I'm having now is that the sand won't provide enough of anything for the plants to thrive, or survive. I know there are supplements to help that issue such as root tabs or additives for the water, but is that more of a Band-Aid on "problems" with sand?

    I've looked at all the local hardware sand options. Playsand, Diamond grit (or whatever it's called), etc... I like the price, but am afraid it won't pay off in the end. If I were to do a 50/50 mix of sand and something like Eco-Complete or similar, would that provide enough for the plants to do well, or would I still be needing root tabs/water supplements? Of course then the price goes back up. Sheesh. I fear I've found myself stuck in a self-created pickle. Any first hand experience with hardware sand planted tanks that could encourage me in the right direction?
    First 29g Tank: In process

  2. Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Goes to 11 has a superb tank on black diamond sand. (heavy planted)

    I'm setting up my 40b w/ it and planting it too-but going low tech.
    it's nearly unbeatable for the price/size.

    but if you have proper lights/ferts/co2, it doesn't "really" matter on the substrate.

    sure eco complete is awesome, but after a while, you'll need to add the root tabs anyways. so to me, initially its great, but long term it acts the same as any other substrate.
    my .02-others swear by the "plant substrate"

  3. #3

    Default It can be confusing yeah...


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by mizzoutank View Post
    Goes to 11 has a superb tank on black diamond sand. (heavy planted)

    [Shh.. Dude! Keep expectations low :-P]


    I have a Black diamond in a couple of tanks - Here is the one referred to so kindly above:

    TOTM8.jpg
    Deets: 55G - 108w 65/10k T5 lighting liquid and root tabs ferts No CO2.

    but if you have proper lights/ferts/co2, it doesn't "really" matter on the substrate.
    I agree. Good susbtrate will not hurt anything [EXCEPTION: Your finances] but obviously it is not a REQUIREMENT for a lush verdant tank and anyway even the best substrate on earth won't do much for you if you have crap lighting.

    Put simply, Planted tanks are a balancing act; Proper Nutrients + appropriate lighting = 'Planted tank' <-- get that right and you are home free :-D.
    Yeah, It's just that easy

    Generally speaking it's simply one facet of the entire gem so to speak. + when it comes to larger tanks [Which admittedly that isn't] the BD [or Pool filter] sand is simply far more economical. [IE: My 100 has nearly 300lbs of sand in it]
    Gas mileage isn't everything OIIIIIIIO
    Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
    Why pretend there are no stupid questions? Actually, There are many stupid questions: "Should I drink this bleach?" Is just one example.
    Having said that, Just because it's a stupid question doesn't mean that it shouldn't be asked. It's better to know.

    A warm beer is better than a cold beer. Because nothing is better than a cold beer, and a warm beer is better than nothing.

  4. #4

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    My tank (see sig) uses pool filter sand. I like that stuff. It requires no rinsing and looks like real sand. To me that black stuff looks too unrealistic.


    DSC_8481 by j_wijnands, on Flickr

    Sand in itself provides 0 nutrients to plants. There's these ways to deal with it.

    1. mix a bottom layer of 50% aquatic compost/50% sand. Spread a thin layer of that and cover with the rest of the sand. Advantage, great for root feeders, disadvantage is it doesn't work well if you add a thick layer of sand and there's a slight chance of it turning anaerobic which is messy and smelly.
    2. Use root tabs/ clay pellets. With these you can target the planted areas. Works well but especially in the first phase when the plants are starting up you'll need to add a bit of liquid ferts.

    I went for the second method on my main tank and I'm now running a small planted bowl on the first method. Both work well.

    If you do go for sand, consider keeping malaysian trumpet snails, they'll keep the sand in top shape but do require constant thinning out.

  5. Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Well that all seems to make a lot of sense. Confirms what I figured to be true and shed some light on some alternatives to plant growth. On a side note, is it true that if I'm using liquid ferts I need to remove the carbon from my filter because it will remove the ferts from the water?

    To be honest, the BD is a little dark for what I'm hoping for. The Mrs. doesn't want a dark substrate either, so I'd have to head another direction. Pool filter sand has the look I'm wanting, but I'm having a difficult time sourcing it. Any suggestions as to places to look?

    EDIT: Found a place that will ship for free to a local hardware store.

    Is there a difference between pool filter sand and silica sand?

    I thought I read somewhere that sand can cause diatom issues? True, false, myth?
    Last edited by Switchfoot55; 04-15-2013 at 08:08 AM.
    First 29g Tank: In process

  6. Default


    0 Not allowed!
    When I purchased my pool filter sand the bag was marked as silica sand, the downside is it had to be washed, a lot.

  7. #7

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Switchfoot55 View Post
    Well that all seems to make a lot of sense. Confirms what I figured to be true and shed some light on some alternatives to plant growth. On a side note, is it true that if I'm using liquid ferts I need to remove the carbon from my filter because it will remove the ferts from the water?
    Carbon might bind some things. I'm not sure never use the stuff.


    Is there a difference between pool filter sand and silica sand?

    I thought I read somewhere that sand can cause diatom issues? True, false, myth?
    I'd say myth. Most sand is silica sand. Filter sand is generally a bit larger grain and pre washed which saves a pesky job.

  8. #8

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Check local pool supply/hot tub/spa stores for PFS. Some of the big box hardware stores may carry it this time of year also as pool season fires up.

    I didn't have to rinse mine either it was very very clean & very consistently sized.

    Just fyi - The black diamond is far from straight black, It has lots of brown flecks in it. Check some out at your local big box hardware store. It does require a decent rinsing though.
    Gas mileage isn't everything OIIIIIIIO
    Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
    Why pretend there are no stupid questions? Actually, There are many stupid questions: "Should I drink this bleach?" Is just one example.
    Having said that, Just because it's a stupid question doesn't mean that it shouldn't be asked. It's better to know.

    A warm beer is better than a cold beer. Because nothing is better than a cold beer, and a warm beer is better than nothing.

  9. Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Well, did a little more research and it looks like just straight silica sand is potentially different than PFS. It can be a little more rough and for sure has to be washed. PFS, for the most part, is almost always prewashed and a little more smooth. So there you go I guess.

    Feels like I checked every big box store's online inventory for PFS within 50 miles with no luck. I wasn't even thinking it could be a seasonal thing...though in my area, very few people have pools, so it really may never be in stock. I'll check around at some nearby spa stores. As I mentioned, I can have a bag shipped for free to a local hardware store for free. Bag is $13. Have others found it for much cheaper? Not that $13 is expensive!
    First 29g Tank: In process

  10. #10

    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Switchfoot55 View Post
    Well, did a little more research and it looks like just straight silica sand is potentially different than PFS. It can be a little more rough and for sure has to be washed. PFS, for the most part, is almost always prewashed and a little more smooth. So there you go I guess.
    If you mean the play sand.. Yeah that is nasty dirty stuff & a total PITA to rinse, Do NOT use it.
    Bag is $13. Have others found it for much cheaper?Not that $13 is expensive!
    I paid 8$/50lb IIRC from my LFS but even at the higher end of the range [13$] it is still FAR cheaper than 'aquarium sand' at what...? 20$/20lbs <- No thanks.
    Gas mileage isn't everything OIIIIIIIO
    Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
    Why pretend there are no stupid questions? Actually, There are many stupid questions: "Should I drink this bleach?" Is just one example.
    Having said that, Just because it's a stupid question doesn't mean that it shouldn't be asked. It's better to know.

    A warm beer is better than a cold beer. Because nothing is better than a cold beer, and a warm beer is better than nothing.

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